US IT job growth jumps in August; 2021 on track for record hiring levels

Businesses would have hired even more IT workers — especially developers, cybersecurity staffers, and compliance experts — had they been able to find enough qualified candidates.

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April 2021

Nearly all the US IT jobs lost in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic have come back, with IT employment enjoying eight straight months of growth. Of course, some of the replacement jobs were in IT specialties other than the jobs lost, as there has been a steady trend of declining data center and telecommunications positions in favor of software development jobs; that was true, even before the pandemic.

At its worst, more than 100,000 IT jobs were lost during the depths of the pandemic in spring 2020, though two-thirds of those came back as the year progressed. Still, 2020 ended with 33,200 fewer IT jobs in the US compared to 2019.

So far in 2021, 30,400 IT jobs have been added, nearly erasing the 2020 net losses.

And IT jobs in 2021 are set to continue to grow, according to the latest figures from IT employment consultancy Janco Associates. It expects another 70,000 IT jobs to be available this year. Janco’s numbers come from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly reports.

When adjusted for seasonality, March saw 6,500 new IT jobs, February saw 9,400, and January saw 14,400. The January and February numbers were revised up significantly from BLS’s original estimate of 8,500 and 6,000, respectively.

The Janco figures jibe with a report released by the CompTIA industry association. It calculated that there were 9,700 new US tech sector jobs in March, following a gain of 7,700 in February and 19,500 in January. CompTIA calculates both technical and nontechnical positions at tech vendors, whereas Janco looks at IT positions, including software developers, in all industries.

Using a much broader definition of IT, including sales positions, CompTIA estimated that 50,000 IT-related jobs were added in March across all industries, following a 178,000-job gain in in February and a 78,000-job gain in January. That reflects an unemployment rate of 1.9%, down from 2.4% in February 2021 and the lowest rate since August 2019.

Nationally, for all jobs, the US unemployment rate fell from 6.2% in February to 6.1% in March, according to the BLS. But the national unemployment rate is closer to 9% if those who have given up looking are included, estimates Oxford Economics; the BLS reports the level of these discouraged workers has remained steady.

CompTIA also saw the number of IT-related job listings grow by about 30,000 in March, passing 307,000. That follows a rise of 44,300 listings in February and 26,000 in January.

Software developers constituted the largest pool of listed openings at 93,000, with listings for IT support specialists coming in second at 25,800 and for system engineeris and architects third at 23,200.

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